Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Lightly-cured salmon

This time last year I was in Copenhagen. Freezing in spring, eating my weight in kanelsnurre and trying not to get run over by bicycles. I loved it. One of my favourite memories is of the cooking class I did, where I learned to make many of the things I'd become so infatuated with during my time in Denmark. Scandinavian food is having a moment and it's easy to see why. It's about eating seasonally, sensibly and simply, with a respect for tradition. This lightly-cured salmon is a perfect example. During the Middle Ages, Nordic fishermen would preserve their summer catch by salting and burying fish in the sand above the high tide line. Since then, generations of Scandinavian home cooks have adapted this technique by "burying" salmon in a dry rub of salt, sugar and dill. Some add a splash of alcohol too - acquavit, vodka, even gin. After a couple of days in the fridge, you simply rinse off the rub, slice the fish thinly into orangey-pink ribbons and enjoy. I like it Smørrebrød-style on rye bread spread thickly with labneh and sprinkled with capers and red onion. You could also serve it - as the Scandis do - with boiled potatoes, mayonnaise and some kind of crunchy slaw or pickle. It's slow food that's fast to prepare. The best of both worlds.

Lightly-cured salmon
Adapted from a recipe by Mia Irene Kristensen of CPH Good Food

This is similar to gravadlax, but more lightly cured. Its Danish name translates to rimmet salmon, in reference to the lightness and purity of the early morning dew on grass.

100g salt
60g white sugar 
1 teaspoon dill seeds, or plenty of fresh dill or fennel tops
freshly ground black pepper
1/2-1kg very fresh side of salmon, pin-boned, skin on

Mix all ingredients together, except for the salmon.

Spread the mixture onto the salmon fillet and massage it into the flesh.

Store it in a sealed bag (or on a shallow bowl covered in plastic wrap) in the fridge for 24-48 hours.

Discard excess liquid, quickly rinse off the salt under cold water and let the fillet dry a little on a piece of kitchen paper. Then slice it into 1/2 cm thick slices to serve.

The salmon will keep, in the fridge, for up to 3 days.

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